, that has triggered an avalanche of criticism. >> reporter: it was not the first time pbs has been targeted. it was, maybe, the most prominent platform. >> i'm going to stop subsidy to pbs. i'm going to stop other things. i like pbs, i love big bird actually like you, too. but i'm not going to keep spending money on things to boro money from china to pay for it. >> reporter: the second he uttered those words, twitter nearly tumbled over. 17,000 big bird tweets per minute. the social network said it was the most tweeted about political event in u.s. history. ari fleischer, press secretary to george w. bush big bird needs to ask dora the explorer how she manages to survive without federal money. try it big bird. you'll be just fine. joan rivers attention pbs, if mitt romney fire big bird i'm ready to fill in. i've got the perfect outfit. president obama did not pounce directly during the debates but did thursday on the trail. >> when asked what he would actually do to cut the deficit and reduce spending he said he would eliminate funding for public television.